Making Sense Of The Election Part 3 — The Unthinkable Disaster We Approach


Posted by Bob Lord

This post is the last in my three part series. It adopts the perspective that the great majority of voters are functionally illiterate, while assuming there is a real difference between the two choices. My own view is somewhere between this view and that of Chris Hedges, described here, but perhaps a bit closer to Hedges. I agree with Hedges that the great majority of voters are functionally illiterate and also agree with him that both parties are in the pocket of corporate America, such that the only real hope is for a populist uprising on the left, like Occupy. But I do think the Republicans are more extreme in their adoption of a fascist agenda and far more willing to implement policies that will inflict misery on millions. I also believe that having Deomcrats in power gives us more time for a nonviolent uprising to develop before it's too late. With that as background —

Things look a bit better for Obama over the last few days, but, remarkably, this election still is perilously close. There literally have been a hundred or more lies, distortions, and stonewalls from Mitt Romney that should disqualify him in the minds of ALL voters.

But, like the lemmings they are, the illiterate majority is headed to the cliffs. They’re actively searching for any plausible justification to vote against the black guy. Many found that justification in the first debate. Some will find it in a 30 second Romney spot. And many simply will abandon reason and go with their woefully mistaken gut instinct. The same gut instinct that led them to elect, then re-elect, a war criminal with the intellect of a hyena, and morals to match. So, we wait, anxiously, to see if just enough of them will find reason and allow us to avert a disaster.

This has happened in other elections, especially 2000 and 2004, but it’s different this time. Taking a step towards the cliff is one thing. Taking a step over it is quite another. When Americans mindlessly voted for George W, based on Al Gore’s sighing at a debate or the picture of John Kerry windsurfing, we were not at match point. This time, we are. To take the analogy further, we actually were at triple match point four years ago and still have work left to pull back from the brink.

The disaster we’re approaching is unconstrained capitalism, a reality that politicians will never openly recognize.  Properly constrained, capitalism is a fantastic economic model. For nearly half a century, from Roosevelt to Carter, we enjoyed the benefits of a capitalist economy subjected to the four constraints needed to make it work for all and be sustainable: (1) appropriate regulation of business; (2) a strongly progressive tax system, including an estate tax; (3) protection of workers’ rights to organize; and (4) a safety net for those left behind. With those constraints in place, capitalism provides us an ever-improving quality of life. But remove those constraints, and Karl
Marx’s predictions become reality.  Labor can’t go toe to toe against unconstrained capital.

With the election of Reagan, the constraints that Roosevelt built and that Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and even Nixon strengthened, began to be dismantled. And over the last three decades we’ve witnessed the terrifying negative feedback loop that is unleashed once the constraints on capitalism begin to erode. Capital, which always seeks to eliminate the constraints (remember Biden, mocking the Republicans a few months back, “unchain the banks”), is empowered by the erosion of the constraints, while labor is weakened. The Republicans think of this phenomenon in terms of “strategic initiatives.” For example, if they enact tort reform (thereby eroding a regulatory constraint), they drive more wealth and income to the top and, more importantly, limit the ability of trial lawyers to fund progressive candidates. If they reduce taxes on the wealthy, thus choking revenue, the elimination of safety net programs becomes an easier sell.

As the negative feedback loop accelerates, life for ordinary people (labor) becomes increasingly difficult. The safety net protections no longer provide a floor underneath them. As unions are weakened, the purchasing power of their wages diminishes. As regulations erode, the more difficult it becomes to avoid being swindled by banksters or poisoned by polluters. And as more and more wealth is concentrated at the top, the more difficult it becomes to break the lock that capital has on the election of officials. On this front, capital does not play fair. Vote suppression, misleading campaigns, smear attacks, are all tactics included in the playbook of capital.

At some point, the negative feedback loop no longer can be reversed through the democratic process. As Brandeis observed, you can have a democratic society, or you can have wealth concentrated at the top, but you can’t have both. Once the point of no return is reached, the only way out is a populist uprising on the left or, far worse, the right. But, unlike the populist movements that have succeeded in the past, this would be a violent one, as the plutocrats won't give up power without a fight.

And make no mistake, we truly are at the edge of that cliff. But the illiterate majority doesn’t see that. The election of Romney and Ryan would push us over the edge. If that happens, Romney and Ryan would waste no time destroying what’s left of the America we once knew. They’ve even told us what they have in mind: Repeal Obamacare; Destroy Medicare and Medicaid; Shrink Social Security; Regulatory repeal; Walker style union busting; and, of course, huge tax giveaways to the wealthy, including full repeal of the estate tax. A weak Democratic majority in the Senate would not deter them and, even if it did, it would be gone in the 2014 mid-terms, when Senators who won seats in the
2008 Democratic wave face re-election.

Hopefully, sanity will eke out a victory. We’ll soon see. If tomorrow's job numbers are so-so or better, we'll likely get the reprieve we're hoping for. Otherwise, all bets are off.

Update: I just read this post over at Down With Tyranny, which expresses far better than I could why this election is important despite the glaring problems with the Democratic Party and Obama. Same message as my post, but much, much better put.



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